Edmonton

Leduc pub's self-serve beer wall a first in Alberta

An airport hotel in Leduc is reaching new heights in Alberta’s evolving beer industry, making local craft brews available through a ‘pour-your-own’ wall of beer.

'People love the idea of trying — especially craft beers — before they pour a full glass of it,' says manager

A preloaded electronic card allows you to pour anywhere from one ounce to 32 ounces before you need to reload. (Best Western Hotel)

An airport hotel in Leduc is reaching new heights in Alberta's evolving beer industry, making local craft brews available through a 'pour-your-own' beer wall.

The dozen taps mounted on the wall at Barney's Pub and Grill in the Best Western hotel is the first of its kind in the province, according to Perry Batke, the hotel's general manager.

Batke said it's meant to "create a local and authentic experience," showcasing Alberta-made craft brews.

"Beyond being really excited about the whole concept of pour-your-own beer, we're excited about building it around Alberta craft beers," he said.

Customers can start a tab and get a pre-loaded — but not pre-paid — electronic payment card. The system allows you to pour anywhere from one ounce to 32 ounces in the first sitting, giving customers the option to sample small amounts of different beers.

"People love the idea of trying — especially craft beers if they're not used to it — before they pour a full glass of it," Batke said. "They can try a variety of them."

Once you hit about two pints, the server has to reload the card.

"As long as you're able to have another drink, you can go beyond 32 ounces," Batke said. "That was an important social responsibility part of it."

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission sanctioned the self-serve system in 2013. 
Above each tap is a screen describing the beer and the brewery. (Best Western Hotel)

Self-serve but still monitored

Michelle Hynes-Dawson, a spokesperson with the AGLC, said the 32-ounce limit allows servers to keep an eye on how much customers are drinking.

"It's not quite as simple as just going in, get your glass and you can keep on pouring with it," Hynes-Dawson said. "It's still very much a monitored system."

Batke said the self-serve beer wall is a great way to promote Alberta craft beers to visitors.

"Especially being an airport hotel, we get people from across Canada," he said. "People like to try something different — they want to know what's local, what's regional … and just the uniqueness of what all these beers and all these breweries can offer."

Above each tap is a screen describing where and how the beer is made and with what ingredients.

Currently, customers can choose brews such as Brewsters 52nd Street Peach Ale, Bench Creek Flint & Steel IPA, Blindman Brewing Kettle Sour and Grizzly Paw Beaver Tale Raspberry Ale. But new beers are rotated in.

Barney's isn't the first establishment to offer self-serve beer, but it is the first to offer a wall of beer instead of table-top taps.

The pub still accommodates those who don't want to use the self-serve wall with a full bar and serving staff.

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